Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Another own goal!

Mel Baroni will be sitting back thinking "I'm so glad I left."

Katrien Meire has now gone to the police in her latest attempt to fight the legitimate protests of the club's supporters.


I really don't know what goes through her mind but she doesn't get it at all. I can accept part is a cultural thing but she clearly takes zero advice from anyone. Perhaps just the mind of a foreign law student who thinks everything is manageable through the system. The joke, of course, is that 98% of what's gone on has been lawful protest and CARD have gone out of their way to ensure it has been.

The 2% has been unfortunate but a meeting with Scotland Yard? Have they got nothing better to do? Hooliganism at Crystal Palace last year has nothing to do with current protests but she manages to confuse the two. 'Pitch invasions' and 'bottle-throwing' conjure up very different images from two pitch invaders in one game a single bottle being thrown at one of the many peaceful and successful protests.

Katrien, we won't be scared off by threats of police action or by your imposed bans. Find out tomorrow what 'no-one likes a grass' means. Not something I necessarily subscribe to but it has a real meaning in life and for people like you, it rings true. Another huge own goal. Your last Head of Comms left because of Roland's failure to communicate but I am sure she would have done the same following this latest failure. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Resign Meire - [Reissued]

[This post is being reissued as Katrien Meire has paid to have negative articles about her largely cleansed from search engines - no-one should be able to control free information]

Katrien Meire, it's time to go. You are the most overpaid and despised employee in the Club's history and there's been some tough competition on the playing staff for that honour (especially under Duchaletet's reign). Time you raised the white flag and realised that your position as CEO at Charlton Athletic Football Club is now contradictory to the responsibilities of the postholder. Whilst you remain arrogantly and selfishly clinging to your job, the Club's supporters will continue to outsmart and outmanoeuvre you at every turn. We will make your job unmanageable. 

We are committed to ensure you fail, even if that means we deprive the club we love of revenue until you are gone and we have professional owners who have the interests of the football club at heart and not just the exploitation of young players. You have overseen the loss of Championship football in pursuit of turning a coin for a hugely wealthy but ultimately mean Shareholder whose strategy for owning our club fell apart within months of purchase due to the failure of FFP. Your hastily rehashed strategy of, er, "being competitive in the Championship with ambitions of Premier League," was another baseless statement (we have had so many) and you will be scratching your head about what guff to give us for next season. 

Today our supporters thwarted your attempts to woo Club sponsors by inviting them along to the Training Ground at Sparrows Lane where Roland is spending some of the debt he is leveraging on our club. We were there in numbers to greet any deluded Sponsors with a couple of very clear messages related to your primary interest (their money) and your view of our fans (weird customers). Only four bothered turning up and we understand at least two of those were taking the opportunity to let you know what little they think of inept running of our once proud club. 

Once again you had Security men running hither and tither filming our supporters, presumably, so you can try to exclude them from Charlton in the future (meaningless action as most are happy to vote with their feet anyway). Your pettiness and vindictiveness knows no bounds. Attempting to pursue the individual who amusingly resigned you as a Director via Companies House to banning an Executive Box holder from displaying Pinnochio posters as a protest at your habitual fibbing. Filming fans who protest and wasting Club resources on moves simply aimed at covering up the shambolic mess you have made as CEO e.g. giving thousands and thousands of free tickets away to make the ground look less empty because of what you have done to the fanbase.

Target 20,000? Don't make us laugh. It starts with a competent CEO and adequate investment. Everything else is jam. Building a better future together? Slashing an already impoverished Club staff? Sacking our main scout? Having no Comms professionals? Chopping and changing a host of cheap, third-rate Flemish-speaking Managers. Watching the Premier League stars of other clubs in the near future? Improving the match day experience irrespective of the football or the results? Surrounding yourself with equally incompetent Yes Men and Women to make yourself look less hopeless? Having to be escorted everywhere by Security personnel because you have alienated your Customers so much you fear for your safety? Three cheers for Mel Baroni. A woman with the Cahones to see what a circus you are presiding over and resign rather than be any part of it. 

I have long since given up on the notion that you might do the honourable thing and resign, so we will make your job unmanageable and you will eventually be removed. Will you still be smirking when the time comes and we are officially relegated? I bet you are praying it happens away from home so you have less angry supporters to avoid. In the meantime we will continue to fight you and the invisible Belgian on every front. 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Ireland 35 v Scotland 25

A break from the grind of relegation, but another double-loss Saturday for me. Still, I rarely leave a rugby game in a bad mood, certainly nothing like some Charlton defeats. A good weekend in Dublin with my Celtic-supporting Uncle and my good wife who enjoys the rugby as much as me.

After a long evening in McDaid's and O'Neill's on Friday we spent a large part of Saturday in my favourite Dublin pub, Doheny & Nesbitt's, comfort eating and quaffing gallons of Guinness. We did leave for the match and once again we were in the top tier of the Bath Road stand. An impressive view to watch a feisty encounter which Scotland were always going to lose once it was clear Ireland's pack had the tactical nouse to limit scrummaging against Scotland and instead, aided by better place-kicking and repeated use of the driving maul, they were able to pin Scotland back and snipe around the sides.

We did have the pleasure of watching the amazing Stuart Hogg do what he does best when can see holes in the opposition defence. He has blistering pace and at only 23 can become one of the greats of world rugby. The Sunday Times described Hogg's try brilliantly, saying that he surveyed the oncoming green line and spotted Rory Best, the hooker, looking like a "Wilderbeest out of his natural habitat" and Hogg hit the afterburners to roar past him to score. Ireland increased their lead as poor discipline saw Scotland reduced to 14 men twice, but Scotland did rally posession wise in the second -half, otherwise it could have been a lot worse.

My wife had earlier informed me of our latest 3-0 reverse which came as no surprise. I hear we played ok for an hour but when you don't create a shot on target in the whole game, what do you expect? Riga's player selection is puzzling and his tactics questionable. I am left wondering whether Reza was played up front yesterday in a vain attempt to make him more saleable. Why else would you leave Lookman and Vetokele on the bench? Even Makienok for heaven's sake.

Even the eternal optimists must realise that we are going down because we haven't been good enough all season. Cut adrift with basket-case Bolton we should soon be out of our misery. Then we will see our third successive clearout ahead of late Summer recruitment of another squad of hopefuls and hopelesses as we prepare to be competitive in League One, no doubt with ambitions for the Championship. Will Jose Riga still be hear to see it, or will Roland manage to find another Flemish-speaker he hasn't tried previously?

Whatever happens it's crystal clear we aren't building a better future together.

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Mel Baroni - a woman of substance

After another calamitous week at Charlton Towers, I was extremely saddened to learn that Mel Baroni has decided after only 46 days that she's wasting her time working for Meire and Duchatelet. 

Mel had given up a good industry job for the Head of Communications post at the Valley and I am sure would have read the runes or have spoken to at least a few Charlton supporters who would have warned her off. Nonetheless she accepted the challenge and was bold enough to meet supporters early on in her role and acquitted herself well. 

The real size of the task would have become obvious to her working in close proximity to Madame Meire and heaven only knows what she made of the instructions from Belgium. Sunday's sardonic message to supporters after the Boro Protests was contradicted and trumped by the Duchatelet Rant on the club website last night and that looks like it was the final straw for Mel Baroni. 

She leaves with her integrity intact and I hope will quickly find a rewarding role in an organisation deserving of someone with her experience and personal values. 

In the meantime, it will be interesting to hear what Madame Meire has to say after losing her kitten so soon. 

News too today that long time Safety Officer, John Little has also tendered his resignation. He will stay on until the end of the season but the timing of this can't be coincidental following Sunday's protests. It would look like John may have been in the firing line for some of Meire's deflection of responsibility for the mess she has created and decided to call it a day. 

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

"Dear Fans...." Unbelievable!!!

After the protests of Sunday that grabbed the national and wider media attention and in front of a live Sky TV audience, the club posted a response which again acknowledged mistakes and promised to improve communication. Indeed, much to everyone's enjoyment, they actually followed up with a new email address for fans to send in comments, complaints and suggestions and asked that we resend old ones, acknowledging for the first time that they hadn't been responding properly previously.

And then, this evening, the strangest message to fans which starts "Dear Fans" and isn't signed. It looks like a hack or something uncontrolled but looks like it's official. A finger-wagging monologue blaming the protestors for the state of play. Quite astonishing. The inference you could take is that it's from Duchatelet himself as it refers to the CEO in the third person and claims she has been misrepresented in all this! Unbelievable Jeff!


What they are in desperate need of is a Communications Manager who has a clue and who they will listen to. Oh wait, they went without one for months, finally hired one and clearly aren't listening or she hasn't got a clue. Time to speak up Mel Baroni if you are out there? @charltoncarcrash

In the meantime, Roland's lost the plot! We are winning the war.

Monday, 14 March 2016

We've heard it all before Katrien - [Reissued]

[This post is being reissued as Katrien Meire has paid to have negative articles about her largely cleansed from search engines - no-one should be able to control free information]

"The club is extremely saddened by the situation which has lead to supporters demonstrating before, and during, the match against Middlesbrough on Sunday."

Come off it! The situation didn't occur on Sunday morning. Why weren't you extremely saddened last week? What about when Roland last got off his arse and put in an appearance? Why not after the Karel Fraye furore? What about the Guy Luzon recruitment lies etc. Have they finally realised they are pretty much on their own? Has the penny (or millions of pounds) finally dropped for Roly? Or, is this just another cynical attempt to be seen to be saying the right thing? What Roland needs to do is sack Meire this week or we know the answer.

They go on. "We are determined to do everything we can to work together with supporters to build our relationship with them and make sure they remain at the heart of this club." Really? Well, take the first step Roland and sack the primary cause of the antagonism, your clueless CEO.

Sacking Meire won't get you out of this mess but it would be the only acceptable first step if you are serious about trying to get the majority of the club's remaining supporters back onside and try to save your investment. The trouble is, this smells very much like yet more lies from the CEO who continues to try to spin her way out of the impending disaster. A desperate attempt to support her failed season ticket renewal and avoid reporting ongoing and increasing losses.

On with the fight. Intensify the protests and hold firm on the season ticket boycott. Avoid the temptation to to spend any money whilst at matches and do anything else you can to cut the income and ram the message home to Roland Duchatelet that he will pay a big price for his stubborness and his failure to run our Charlton Athletic professionally. When we win this battle, the next owner will be far more likely to be someone with a serious plan and commitment to develop and promote the club, because they will know what to expect if they don't have those qualities and ambitions.

Sunday, 13 March 2016

Charlton Athletic 2 v Middlesbrough 0

A day that will live long in the memory and be remembered as another of the great supporter victories on the road to forcing Roland Douchatelet to sell up.

After a couple of pints in the Royal Oak, I helped distribute black and white beach balls to fellow fans before kick-off. Along with a couple of mates we handed out several hundred on the junction of Charlton Lane and Harvey Gardens and were done in time to head back towards Floyd Road for the mock funeral procession. For an hour we had been commented on "where is everyone." The streets were deserted and the Royal Oak had been half-empty.

Well, it was clear when we turned the corner by the Club Shop that a couple of thousand of them were following the soul of Charlton Athletic as it made it's way down down Floyd Road. It really was a stirring sight and was evidence that the supporters will not be beaten and that Duchatelet and Meire will be forced out.

After that we made our way into the ground and prepared for the match, although the sight of the empty home areas was a big disappointment, even after the couple of thousand protesting had made their way in. I reckon there were around 7,000 Charlton fans in attendance today and just shy of 3,000 visitors. 

Prior to kick-off a number of beach balls had made their way onto the pitch and were cleared in time to start but within a minute of kick-off, the referee had to halt the game as hundreds more poured out of the Covered End and the East Stand. Rousing choruses of "stand-up if you want them out" and "we want our Charlton back" punctuated the first-half, during which Boro largely bossed the match. They should have gone ahead moments before the break but Nicky Pope pulled out a stunning reflex save to somehow clear off his line.

Into the second-half and within minutes a cacophony of whistles from home fans  were blown in an effort to further delay the match. However, there were so many it was possible for the match to continue as the collective sound was a loud humming rather than the shrill of a single whistle.

We were getting more men forward and Harriott and Lookman were seeing more of the ball. Boro were suddenly defending and then on 57 minutes, we scored. Jorge Teixeira got the nod from a corner. It was the signal for a couple of fans to invade the pitch. They may have jumped the gun as dozens of others at the front wavered and the massed Police and Stewards held the line. The match was stopped again for a few minutes. One of the invaders made it back to the stand but the other held firm until he was frogmarched off by five or six Stewards. I hope we make a collection for the gentlemen in question towards his fine. I will certainly put my hand in my pocket.

After that the focus for many was the 74th minute walkout to begin the post-match protest early. Katrien Meire was ready for it though and a message warning supporters of the consequences of invading the pitch was put up on the screen so we didn't have the satisfaction off seeing the 74th minute appear - it really sums the woman up - petty and spite-filled. Nonetheless, hundreds headed for the exits and the protest began anyway. 

Roland Rat made an appearance behind the West to huge cheers and the protest was orderly and well-behaved. We heard the cheer for the second Charlton goal and we joined in moments later when it was confirmed that it was us that had scored and not Boro. However, when the match finished and those who hadn't joined the protest filed out they were met with choruses of "where were you when we walked out?" This was unfortunate as it lead to name calling and hand gestures between some fans. Protestors need to realise that there are some fellow fans who can't bring themselves to protest and others who still believe Duchatelet saved the club yet still don't understand that he has loaded the club up to £46m in debt. He takes a modest 3% interest on the £36m portion of this that he has provided. Yes, he won't get all his money back but he's shrinking the size of the club to minimise his losses and you can be sure he will pocket the millions he can cash in on with player sales to recoup any future losses. You know, the ones groomed for the Premier League that we are fortunate enough to see play their first matches in a Charlton shirt.

One other thing was very visible today after the walkout. The number of those left will probably represent the home gate at many matches next year following the season ticket boycott and what will be another huge drop in paying customers. It was bad enough before the walkout as this photo testifies...

My God, what have they done to our club?

Thousands mourn

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Battle for the Valley - Part Two

The fight against absentee landlord, Roland Duchatelet, intensifies this weekend as the Sky cameras pay an increasingly rare visit to SE7. The Coalition Against Roland Duchatelet have announced a symbolic slow march from the Liberal Club to the ground before the match with a coffin carrying the soul of our club.

The match itself promises plenty of distraction as fans are planning a number of disparate protests to draw attention of Sky's cameras. A 74th minute walkout is also part of the plan when anyone who has had enough of the under-investment, the spin the lies, the incompetent Head Coaches, the hopeless CEO and the humbling of our once proud club, needs to vote with their feet and join the protest behind the West Stand. It would be great if the Sky cameras see fans flooding out and then hear booming singing from behind the West Stand.

Now's the time and now's hour, play your part if you want Regime change.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Charlton Nil v MK Dons 0

Well, the answer to the question I posed after the win at Griffin Park, was no, we couldn't string two wins together for the first time this season. In fact we barely mustered two efforts on goal. So disappointing given our need, the quality of the opposition and home advantage.

MK Dons bossed possession in the first-half without causing Nicky Pope too many problems. Whenever we did get forward the yellow shirts flooded back and they were well organised. It was difficult to see where a goal would come from with Makienok lost alone up front and offering no aerial threat. At least Callum Harriott was trying and he picked up notably after the restart which was the bizarre signal for Riga to take him off and bring Sanogo on. Cue a chorus of "you don't know what you're doing,"

We continued to play with much more pace but repeatedly failed to get crosses and corners above the first yellow shirt. Bergdych came on for Makienok who couldn't wait to get off to stop the cheers for his substitution. The ref didn't help the flow of the match, repeatedly stopping play before Charlton set pieces and calling players towards him for a telling off.  There was also a strange sequence of MK players dropping to the deck off the ball looking for free-kicks and penalties. That was also to lead to the evening's final drama as Sonogo earned a red card in added time for an off-the-ball incident which left another yellow shirted opponent on the floor. Silly boy because that's ruined his loan move.

So, ten matches left and Boro up next. They lost to Rotherham this evening which means to avoid the drop we need to make up seven points on them and eight on MK. I can only see the gap getting bigger and us being relegated with five matches left to play.

The crowd this evening was predictably poor. Only a few hundred visitors and the home stands only a third full. The yardstick was the Jackpot Ticket first prize which was, I think, a record low of £198. Katrien, when I won it, the first prize was £1700. Good luck with Target 20,000 but my money's on you hitting Target 5000 first.

Time to focus on doing whatever we can do to raise the temperature against the Regime and get Duchatelet to sell up.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Brentford 1 v Charlton Athletic 2

I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. A rare Charlton victory was achieved in West London yesterday. Not only three points but a derby too. 

The result ups the ante for Tuesday's visit of survival rivals, Milton Keynes. It was our third away win of the season and means we have matched the number of home victories, which is a telling statistic when the total numbers a paltry six in March. The big question now, is can we do something we haven't managed all season and string two wins together. I wasn't there yesterday and didn't follow the game either as I was busy building a desk for my eldest's move to senior school in September. However, I have caught up with the reviews and it would appear the Bees were unfortunate not to get something out of the game. Stringing two together may be expecting too much.

I will probably get some criticism for this but I can't help feeling a little disappointed that it was Harriott who got both goals. I made my mind up very firmly sometime ago that he will never be good enough for us (just like Makienok). Yes he will notch the odd goal or two but he's a flash-in-the-pan player and scoring a brace will probably mean we now play him for half-a-dozen matches in which he will do nothing but waste posession and chances. Having said that, we hardly have an embarrassment of riches to choose from when it comes to goals.

I should be grateful really as we were out with four Millwall fans last night and it took the edge off their piss-taking. I have been saying we are down since before Christmas but they were lording it nonetheless and after the stick I handed out to them last season I had to suck it up. I also have one eye on what next season may look like, so probably best to look contrite for some time yet.

Friday, 4 March 2016

League One Season Ticket Prices - I'm Out

The club have finally announced season ticket prices for 2016-17. Fans will be making big judgement calls about whether or not they are willing to commit to an entire season again in League One (almost certainly) and support The Regime in the process.

The headline deal is a £175 season ticket in the North Lower only. This represents a £25 increase over this season for the cheapest seats but for a poorer view of the match behind the goal and League One football. The positive news is that there are over 3000 seats available there at this price, so they will be able to accommodate all those interested in a cheap ticket. 

Elsewhere, the story is generally not a good one. Prices are similar or higher than this season for what will be lower league football. I suppose the proof of the pudding will be in the eating based upon how we shape up to tackle next season and what the new strategy for the club is, given the current one can no longer be applied. "Competitive in the Championship with Premier League ambitions" will need to be tweaked. A simple change of division might be an obvious answer but that would might take even more selling than this year. Perhaps they will look to redefine the club around our Academy and the prospect of watching future Championship and maybe Premier League players. Maybe something like "it's not the result that matters, rather the hope and opportunity of youth." "Building a better future together" looks increasingly hilarious and will undoubtedly be a strapline fans in the future use with huge irony to remember the ruinous ownership of the Duchatelet and the squandered mismanagement of the club by the arrogant, ignorant and haughty Katrien Meire.

They are offering a £25 early bird incentive for those willing to commit before 16th April. I really hope that waverers bite the bullet and hold out until later in the Summer to help make the point that we have to see a change of ownership. Too much water has gone under the bridge and we shouldn't forget what these people have done to us and this club. We have been relegated and there is no prospect so far of any significant change to a broken administration and flawed management model. I would suggest that the prices being offered are likely to look like very poor value for money by October. Katrien Meire must be made to report disastrous season ticket sales and plummeting revenues. 

Regular readers will know I will not be renewing until there is a change of ownership, irrespective of the price. My run of 39 years ends here. I will pay match-by-match in future and have decided I will only attend if the product on offer provides value-for-money. I will continue to protest against Duchatelet and the repugnant Katrien Meire until they are finally forced out. 

It really is make your mind-up time and anyone who renews is prolonging the downward spiral and the agony as far as I am concerned.